Australia’s Firefinch sees output at Mali lithium mine by early 2024

The Goulamina lithium project is located in the Bougouni region of southern Mali. Credit: Firefinch Ltd.

Australian lithium miner Firefinch Ltd expects its Goulamina project in Mali to start production in late 2023 or early 2024, its country director Seydou Semega told Reuters on Thursday.

The company foresees annual production of over 436,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate, the ore from which lithium is extracted, making Goulamina one of the largest developments of its kind in the world.

Semega said the project had seen some delays because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now things are returning to normal,” he said on the sidelines of an industry event in Bamako.

Lithium prices have soared this year as automakers invest billions of dollars in a transition to electric vehicles, boosting demand for batteries which use lithium.

Construction at Goulamina should start in the second quarter of 2022 and last 18 months, after which production will start in late 2023 or early 2024, Semega said, forecasting output of 450,000 tonnes per year over the project’s 23-year projected lifespan.

In June, Firefinch signed a deal to jointly develop and operate Goulamina with China’s Ganfeng Lithium, one of the world’s top producers of the mineral. Under the deal, Ganfeng was going to invest $130 million for a 50% stake.

Firefinch is due to make a final investment decision (FID) on the project in December – a key condition for Ganfeng to make $91 million of its funding available.

(By Tiemoko Diallo and Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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